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UiB’s office in Brussels officially opened

Rector Dag Rune Olsen spearheaded a delegation from the University of Bergen to mark the opening of the university’s new office in Brussels.

Left to right: NTNU’s Rector Gunnar Bovim, state secretary Bjørn Haugstad, UiB’s Rector Dag Rune Olsen and SINTEF director Unni Steinsmo at the official opening of the three institutions Brussels office on 22 September 2015.
GRAND OPENING: UiB’s Rector Dag Rune Olsen alongside NTNU’s Rector Gunnar Bovim, state secretary Bjørn Haugstad and SINTEF director Unni Steinsmo performing the official opening of the three institutions Brussels office on 22 September 2015.
Photo:
Sverre Ole Drønen

On Tuesday 22 September, the University of Bergen (UiB) opened its new office in Brussels. The office is a collaboration between UiB, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and SINTEF.

The main idea behind the office is to build international networks and to obtain more EU funding for research projects at the three partners. This is also in line with the goals of the Norwegian authorities for universities to obtain more EU funding.

 “For us this is about promoting our own research and make this more visible internationally,” said UiB Rector Dag Rune Olsen at the opening.

“To achieve this money is important. But money is the means, not the goal. Money is a mechanism to achieve our strategic goals. The Horizon 2020 programme is of particular interest to us and participation here may release major international and crossdisciplinary collaborations.”

Horizon 2020 (H2020) is the EU’s eight framework programme for research and innovation. UiB is the Norwegian university that so far has been most successful in achieving funding from H2020.

 

Ambitious and crossdisciplinary

Rector Olsen believes that the good results so far should be cause for an increased effort to obtain funding from the EU. He wants the university’s researchers to be even more ambitious when it comes to working on their applications. He believes that the new Brussels office is a valuable contribution to achieving UiB’s long-term strategic goals.

“H2020’s strength is the focus on thematic programmes and the focus on supporting crossdisciplinary research. I really do see the potential for H2020 to engage the university at large,” he said pointing out that crossdisciplinary research long has been a focus area for UiB.

He pointed to increasing collaborations between the natural and the social sciences, in particular highlighting the internationally recognised work at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.

In the last couple of years, the researchers at Bjerknes have obtained a number of grants from the European Research Council (ERC). This is the result of long-term hard work.

And UiB’s climate research focus goes beyond Bjerknes. For instance, there is a clear climate component in the TRACSYMBOLS research project, headed by the UiB Professors Francesco d’Errico and Christopher Henshilwood, who was until recently the holder of a prestigious ERC Advanced Grant.

Further there are crossdisciplinary research projects containing a climate component and that may be emulated in future applications, such as the language and climate project LINGCLIM, headed by Professor Kjersti Fløttum, or the climate-anthropological ECOPAS project, headed by Professor Edvard Hviding.

 

More funding and stronger international networks

“Applying for the EU’s big research programmes contributes to realising our own ambitions and goals, but also leads to quality enhancement. Being evaluated by the European research elite contributes to strengthening the quality of our applications and makes us sharper when competing with others,” said Rector Olsen.

He pointed out that it could be tempting for Norwegian researchers to seek funding exclusively with national bodies, such as the Research Council of Norway. This is great, according to the rector, but he suggested that research at UiB would be strengthened by reaching higher and engaging even more with international partners. Additionally this would contribute to strengthening UiB’s reputation outside of Norway’s borders.

“Networking is extremely important. By meeting like-minded brains internationally, we improve our own research. You can not develop good research in a vacuum. Although there are many outstanding researchers in Norway, there are more excellent minds internationally. We want our researchers to work with the best brains in the world and become part of the international elite,” said Rector Dag Rune Olsen at the opening of the Brussels office.